Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Dick Roche (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
The hypotheses on which Deputy Cuffe bases his assertions is false. I suspect the Deputy knows just how false it is. No À la carte attitude can be adopted in the contribution to the EU budget. I could debate long and hard with Deputy Cuffe on my personal views on EURATOM. I did so during the course of the Convention on the Future of Europe. Ireland and Austria stood alone on that issue and towards the end of the convention, it was Ireland, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Hungary which pointed to the inadequacies of EURATOM and sought a review. It is false for the Deputy to suggest that any member state can hypothecate moneys it makes to the EU budget. There is no point in recreating that false premise. Every member state makes a contribution to the EU budget and it is used in a variety of ways.
If the Deputy were to ask me if I believe funding for EURATOM is the most prudent use of European taxpayers' funds, I would say no because of its constitutional arrangement. If he asked me if it could be better spent, I would agree with him. However, it is simply untrue, deliberately misleading and mendacious to suggest that any member state government would have the opportunity to ring-fence its allocation to the EU budget.
The future of the EURATOM treaty must be debated. As a member of the Convention on the Future of Europe, one of my regrets was that it did not enter into that area. I forecasted accurately that citizens in Europe concerned with the issue, whether they lived in a nuclear-powered state, would take a view on it. Their concerns can be attributed — in a small part — to the difficulties into which the constitutional treaty got. The Government has no enthusiasm for the type of EURATOM activity described by the Deputy.